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A.A. Murakami: A Thousand Layers of Stomach

9 December 2021 - 15 May 2022



A Thousand Layers of Stomach is an exhibition that simulates an endless state of change in a culture like the constant change that occurs in living cells. Drawn from Metabolism, a post-war architectural movement originating in Japan with an idea of rebirth of the built environment, the artists behind Studio Swine, A.A. Murakami, are bridging technological advancement with vernacular aesthetics to probe the cultural, historic, and economic changes of the postmodern world.

A Thousand Layers of Stomach refers to digestion in nature and specifically the notion of Metabolism and the whole range of biochemical processes that occur within a living organism. Metabolism consists of anabolism (the build-up of substances) and catabolism (the breakdown of substances). By connecting the notions of digestion and metabolism, this exhibition celebrates renewal in a metaphysical sense, specifically to insist on the endurance and perseverance of the human spirit in the face of adversity by improvising new ways of approaching our environment for a more sustainable and positive long-term effect on civilization. In favour of a sustainable and metabolic development of society, A.A. Murakami examines the cyclical and metamorphic relationships between nature, the built environment, the human body and their interaction with ecology, technology, and geology. Central to their research-based approach, their work straddles the disciplines of architecture, sculpture, installation, and film. Broken down into complementary modules, this immersive exhibition projects visions of what future anthropology, material culture, and processes of regeneration may hold in the post-technological era.

Taking a long-term interest in urban cartography, Silent Passenger is a rear-view mirror with an embedded screen that invites viewers to watch moving images from the past and the present simultaneously, causing a double vision effect. The intent is for viewers to bear witness to a visual sublime of China’s urbanization, which resembles science fiction. Cell 3 is a free-standing sculpture made with foamed aluminium that has been injected with a gassing agent when molten. By bridging the visual elements of the rugged landscape with the language of domestic design, this minimalist object addresses the tension between the power of nature and our desire for its permanence. The reflective and textured surfaces of an imaginary asteroid somehow blur our identification of its material origin, so we cannot decipher whether it is from the present or the distant future.

Metamorphosed 2 is a panel made of slices of aluminium foam upon which are embedded different metals shaped like crystallized rocks. The images on the panel resemble book-matched marble or Rorschach ink tests with their symmetrical patterns.Appearing as an excavated archaeological specimen, this work suggests that the sedimentary layers of Earth are made of post-industrial materials and waste.

A particular section of this exhibition takes the form of a factory line where the major components are Machine and Base Layer with a documentary video. Base Layer is a cardboard trolley in which the cardboard is collected from the streets of Hong Kong where they were used by domestic helpers congregating in the Central district. The cardboard is mulched and seeded with fungi spores, and the cardboard pulp is subsequently metabolized into living tissue or mycelium, the same fine root fibres that form the internet of the forest. Mycelium Drawing is an organic architectural rendering of a housing project with C-type houses. Behind the drawing is mycelium growing on recycled cardboard bits housed inside a transparent frame. The artists regard mycelium as an important sustainable material for the future. As one of the oldest life forms on Earth, mycelium provides necessary nutrients for the ecosystem. A.A. Murakami believes that to meet the challenges of this century with an expanding human population and ever-increasing pressure on the natural world, humanity needs to find a more symbiotic relationship between human population growth and the natural systems on which our existence depends.

The second section of this exhibition makes reference to the landscape design of a classical garden in Suzhou, drawn by its poetic use of space and contemplative qualities. It is centred around a kinetic artwork titled Photon Gate that is reminiscent of Chinese ink paintings of misty landscapes. On view is a robotic fog mechanism that moves light sources in orbits like the orreries of the past which were clockwork models of our solar system. The light source is set behind a gradient-coloured filter that splits the white light into separate-coloured bandwidths, creating a constantly shifting gradient of hues.The fog absorbs light and colour, giving it a mass and volume. The intensity of the fog shifts. When dense, the fog desaturates the colours and scatters the light like the gases and clouds in our atmosphere. Two steel thrones, Chair Type 1 & 2 made in the style of brutalist architecture of the early 20th century are present to introduce another perspective for perceiving the whole immersive environment. Leaning against the wall is Day 1, a large translucent coloured gradient glass panel, which captures daylight from the gallery’s exterior to create a more natural experience.


A.A. Murakami are the artists behind Studio Swine (Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers). Working across the media of sculpture, film and immersive installations, their work explores themes of regional identity and the future of resources in the age of globalization.

In A.A. Murakami’s Ephemeral Tech series, the boundaries between digital technology and natural forces are dissolved to create unnatural phenomenon using real materials that engage the viewer’s senses beyond the standard visual stimuli of digital interfaces. The series looks to a future where technology transcends familiar interfaces and becomes inseparable from our built and natural environments.

A.A. Murakami’s films have been recognized at Cannes and their work has been widely exhibited at institutions such as the V&A Museum in London and the Venice Art and Architecture Biennales. Their works have been collected by MoMA in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris.


9 December 2021
15 May 2022
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